Descending a ladder.
Descending into the psyche of a Costco employee. Photo by Tommy Bond.

Garbage Chutes & Ladders

Last Sunday afternoon, I took a nap. After changing into my Superman pajamas and a gray sweater, I nestled under the covers to get some rest and hopefully heal from my cold. Five hours later, I woke up. This is what I dreamed…

The Notes

I was at work and Oksana gave me three little slips of paper. She didn’t tell me what was on them, but I noticed some writing and a couple of numbers. She made it clear that I was supposed to read them as soon as possible, but our assistant manager Pat told me I had to take care of the garbage first.

So, I did my best to quickly round it all up. The other employees were getting ready to leave and go home. Oksana waved goodbye from behind a chain-link fence, and suddenly I remembered that I hadn’t read her notes.

The garage at our old house was somehow part of the Costco warehouse, specifically the cardboard and garbage compactors. My dad had some strange construction/painting stuff lying around, so it was kind of hard to maneuver. I struggled to get the garbage into the chute and had to set my notes down in the process. Then I got called away to do something else.

After I left, Ray and Greg brought over more recycling garbage and the notes got mixed in with their stuff. The next day, I realized I’d lost the notes and was really mad at myself. Who knows what they might have said? Maybe she wanted to tell me how great I was, or maybe it was something important related to work.

The Neighbor

Earlier in my dream, my dad and I were painting the side of our neighbor’s house. It was a gross, milky-green sort of color. We were up on the tallest ladders I’ve ever seen, and we were standing on the rungs facing the wrong direction. My mom was down below in the yard talking to a woman I’d never seen before. The woman’s husband was abusive or something and she was trying to escape.

From my vantage point atop the ladder, I saw a futuristic car further down the road. Its two front wheels recessed into the hood of the car on diagonals, and the hood was some kind of weird metal-wire meshwork. It was kind of cool looking, but I soon realized the owner was this lady’s husband and he suddenly screeched out of the neighboring cul-de-sac.

My mom and the woman gasped in fear as they saw him coming, the engine of his car roaring so loudly that it shook the ground. When he came to a stop, the vibrations were so powerful that it knocked me off the ladder. I fell in a strangely relaxed, reclined position (like I was tanning on the beach) and shouted angrily until I hit the ground. I wasn’t hurt, but I was sure mad. I was madder than I’ve ever been.

My dad tried to calm me down, but I was enraged! I chucked something at the guy’s head but missed. I’m not sure what it was. It may have been my Rubik’s cube. My dad yelled back at me to chill out, fearing I might turn into the Hulk. And I almost did, as I was shouting at the top of my voice, neck-veins bulging and my face bright red and scrunched up, teeth bared.

Seeing Spots

So later, I was moping over the fact that I’d lost Oksana’s notes. I still didn’t know what was so important about them, but I couldn’t face her again without them. I planned to go back to the compactors at work and see if the notes had somehow, miraculously, not been tossed into the recycling chute with all the other stuff.

I looked through the screen door to our garage and saw the notes, but more of my dad’s junk was in the doorway and I couldn’t get through. Then I looked down the hallway and saw our stupid dog Hailey running up to meet me. There were several open paint cans on the floor and the dog was stepping in all of them. Paint splattered everywhere. I told my mom to do something about it, but Hailey was still coming. So I switched to diversionary tactics and went down another hall and came up behind her, and of course she turned around to follow me.

I led Hailey into the downstairs living room, which for some odd reason resembled an underground parking garage. The ceiling was concrete and very low. Everything was lined with a giant plastic drop-cloth that formed various hills and trails, sort of like the countryside of a small town. Anyway, my mom showed up and we tried to figure out what to do with Hailey. She was rolling and splashing in random pools of black and white paint scattered all around. At one point she turned into a Dalmatian.

When Hailey finally noticed us again, she ran (splashed) over to meet us. I was adamant about not getting paint on my nice clothes and somehow managed to keep her from getting too close. My mom offered to keep watch over the dog, so I left and headed for the garage.

Strangers in my Bedroom

I took a detour through my old bedroom and found a bunch of strange people milling around. They were all dressed in black and I got the feeling they were holding a funeral service. I noticed a few food trays on my old dresser. I made my way through the crowds feeling a little frustrated, but oh well.

At the entrance to the garage, I looked through the screen door for any sign of the notes. My heart leapt! They were still there, but they were in a pile with a bunch of floor sweepings and other stuff. I carefully removed the various stuff blocking the doorway and clamored through the rest of it. I hastily sorted through the bunch of paper scraps until I found the notes!

And then I woke up.